Queenstown, New Zealand

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For other places with the same name, see Queenstown (disambiguation).
Resort town
Queenstown from Bob's Peak
Queenstown from Bob's Peak
Queenstown is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 45°01′52″S 168°39′45″E / 45.03111°S 168.66250°E / -45.03111; 168.66250Coordinates: 45°01′52″S 168°39′45″E / 45.03111°S 168.66250°E / -45.03111; 168.66250
Country  New Zealand
Region  Otago
Territorial authority Queenstown-Lakes District
 • Mayor Vanessa van Uden
 • Urban 25.55 km2 (9.86 sq mi)
 • District 8,704.97 km2 (3,361.01 sq mi)
Population (June 2014 estimate)
 • Urban 12,500
 • Urban density 490/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
 • District 30,900
 • District density 3.5/km2 (9.2/sq mi)
Time zone NZST (UTC+12:00)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13:00)
Postcode(s) 9300
Area code(s) 03

Queenstown (Māori: Tahuna) is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island.

It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains such as The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and just above the town; Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill.

Queenstown has an urban population of 12,500 (June 2014 estimate),[1] making it the 29th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the third largest urban area in Otago, behind Dunedin and Oamaru.

The Queenstown-Lakes District has a land area of 8,704.97 square kilometres (3,361.01 sq mi) not counting its inland lakes (Lake Hāwea, Lake Wakatipu, and Lake Wanaka). The region has an estimated resident population of 30,900 (June 2014 estimate).[1] Its neighbouring towns include Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Kingston, Wanaka, Alexandra, and Cromwell. The nearest cities are Dunedin and Invercargill. Queenstown is now known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism. It is popular with New Zealand, Australian and international travellers alike.[citation needed]


Māori visitors[edit]

The area was known to Māori before Europeans arrived. The first European to see Lake Wakatipu was Nathanael Chalmers who was guided by Reko, the chief of the Tuturau, over the Waimea Plains and up the Mataura River in September 1853.[2] Evidence of stake nets, baskets for catching eels, spears and ashes indicated the Glenorchy area was visited by Māori. It is likely Ngāi Tahu Māori visited Queenstown en route to collect Pounamu (greenstone), although no evidence of permanent settlement is known.

European settlers[edit]

Explorers William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann were the first Europeans to settle the area. Rees established a high country farm in the location of Queenstown's current town centre in 1860, but the discovery of gold in the Arrow River in 1862 encouraged Rees to convert his wool shed into a hotel named the Queen's Arms, now known as Eichardt's.[3] There are various apocryphal accounts of how the town was named, the most popular suggesting that a local gold digger exclaimed that the town was "fit for Queen Victoria". Many Queenstown streets bear names from the gold mining era (such as Camp Street) and some historic buildings remain. William's Cottage, the Lake Lodge of Ophir, Queenstown Police Station, and St Peter's Anglican Church lie close together in a designated historic precinct.

Tourism and education[edit]

See and do[edit]

The Queenstown Mall in winter
Queenstown and the Remarkable Mountains
The Ledge Bungy

A resort town, Queenstown boasted 220 adventure tourism activities in 2012.[4] Skiing and snowboarding, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking,[4] skateboarding, tramping, paragliding, sky diving and fly fishing are all popular.

Queenstown is a major centre for snow sports in New Zealand, with people from all over the country and many parts of the world travelling to ski at the four main mountain ski fields (Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone). Cross country skiing is also available at the Waiorau Snowfarm,[5] near Cardrona village.

The 100-year-old twin screw coal fired steamer TSS Earnslaw traverses Lake Wakatipu.

Queenstown lies close to the centre of a small wine producing region, reputed to be the world's southernmost.[citation needed] The Two Paddocks vineyard is owned by local actor Sam Neill.[6] Neighbouring, historic Arrowtown features restaurants and bars.

Queenstown has many festivals.[7] In 2013, examples include Bike Festival (March/April),[8] Winter Festival (June),[9] and Jazz Festival (October).[10]

Queenstown Airport is located 8 km from town[11] and has scheduled flights from Auckland, Christchurch, Rotorua, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Locations for television and film[edit]

Jane Campion's six-part drama mystery Top of the Lake was shot during 2012 for pay TV release in 2013. The lakes of the Wakatipu appear ominous,[12] and the Southern Alps spectacular. The main location is Moke Lake[13][14] and scenes were shot on Lower Beach Street and Coronation Drive, and at a supermarket and bottle store on Shotover Street.[13] Top of the Lake's international cast includes Holly Hunter, Elisabeth Moss, Peter Mullan,[12] David Wenham,[15] and Thomas M Wright.[14]

In 2010, Cycle 14 of America's Next Top Model, was, in part filmed in Queenstown. The cycle was won by Krista White. Raina Hein was runner up.

Queenstown and the surrounding area contains many locations used in the filming of the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Locations used include Paradise near Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

Queenstown featured for 17 minutes in I Hate Luv Storys, a 2010 Bollywood romantic comedy. Queenstown and the surrounding areas were also used in the 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine film. Mee-Shee: The Water Giant was shot in Queenstown in 2005, and released to DVD in the same year. Queenstown was also used to film most of the 1988 The Rescue. Queenstown was the base for filming the George Lucas 1988 fantasy film Willow.

Filming of the 1981 film Race for the Yankee Zephyr took place in and around Queenstown, the first major motion picture production for the area.

The first and last episodes of the fifth season of The Mole were filmed in Queenstown. In the latter episode, the final three contestants took the final computer quiz on the Kingston Flyer.[citation needed]

Language, tourism, and community education[edit]

Wakatipu High School is a government co-ed school which services the community for students 13–18 years.[16]

Adult training institutions provide a variety of options in English, sustainability, tourism and community education in Queenstown.

Specialist English language providers[17][18] include Language Schools New Zealand,[19] ABC College of English,[20] and Southern Lakes English College.[21] Southern Institute of Technology (SIT)[22] offers various courses, including scholarships for English study.[23]

Queenstown Resort College actively supports events for international travel agents,[24] It offers accredited management courses in hospitality and adventure tourism,[25] and a rare Diploma of Adventure Tourism Management specialising in Snowsport.[26]

ACE Wakatipu has a community focus, and provides links to many adult training opportunities.[27]

Otago Polytechnic offers introductory courses in sustainability.[28] And its Centre for Sustainable Practice offers certificate and graduate diploma level courses in sustainable practice.[28][29]


Panorama of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from the top of the gondola

Geography and climate[edit]

Queenstown is situated on the shore line of Lake Wakatipu, the third largest lake by surface area in New Zealand. It is at a relatively high altitude nestled among mountains, and there are close-by gorges and some plains suitable for agriculture.

Despite its relatively high altitude and mountain surroundings, it has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb).[53] Summer has long warm days with temperatures that can reach 30 °C while winters are cold with temperatures often in single digits with frequent snowfall, although there is no permanent snow cover during the year. As with the rest of Central Otago, Queenstown lies within the rain shadow of the Southern Alps, but being closer to the west coast the town is more susceptible to rain-bearing fronts compared to nearby Cromwell, Wanaka and Alexandra. The hottest recorded temperature in Queenstown is 34.1 °C (93 °F) on 2 January 1948, while the coldest is −8.4 °C (17 °F) on 3 July 1995.[54]

Climate data for Queenstown (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 34.1
Average high °C (°F) 21.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 15.8
Average low °C (°F) 9.8
Record low °C (°F) 0.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 64.7
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7.2 6.2 7.4 7.4 9.0 9.2 6.9 9.1 8.5 8.8 7.6 9.6 96.9
Average humidity (%) 70.2 74.3 75.8 78.4 81.1 83.8 83.3 80.5 73.1 70.9 67.5 69.4 75.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 230.3 207.3 187.0 145.4 87.8 71.8 88.3 120.0 153.6 197.7 216.6 223.5 1,929.2
Source: NIWA Climate Data[55]


Queenstown is accessible by road and air but not by rail (similar to Taupo and Nelson).

As a resort centre, there are many bus services that operate into Queenstown, with most being for package tours, but daily services for the local or itinerant are available to and from Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch, which are the main cities closest to Queenstown.

Queenstown has an international airport with flights from Australia by Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar and in particular, from Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney (the frequency is much increased over the ski season and during summer). Domestic flights operate from Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch. Due to sustained growth, expansion of the airport terminal was undertaken in 2005 through 2010.

Queenstown Airport is New Zealand's busiest helicopter base, also the fourth busiest airport by passenger traffic, and is also heavily used for tourist 'flightseeing', especially to Milford Sound and Mount Cook, using both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The primary road access to the Queenstown area is via State Highway 6 (SH6), which travels from Cromwell through the Kawarau Gorge to Frankton, where a 9 km spur (SH6A) leads to the CBD and connects with the Glenorchy Road. SH6 continues south, crossing the Kawarau river before heading down the eastern side of Lake Wakatipu to Kingston before crossing the provincial boundary and emerging on the plains of Southland, terminating in the city of Invercargill. A difficult road over the Crown Range leads to Cardrona skifield and Wanaka, and is New Zealand's highest paved public road.

Queenstown is the departure point for a large number of day trips to the similarly famous Milford Sound, which entails a return trip of approximately 12 hours. There are scenic flights available to Milford Sound. A return flight, including a two-hour cruise, is approximately four hours.

Suburbs and nearby areas[edit]

Central Queenstown contains many businesses, apartments and homes but is near many suburbs or large areas of housing which are: Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Queenstown Hill, Goldfield Heights, Marina Heights, Kelvin Heights, Arthurs Point and Frankton. Just outside of Queenstown are the areas of: Arrowtown, Dalefield, Closeburn, Gibbston, Jack's Point, Lake Hayes and Quail Rise.

Sister cities[edit]

Panorama of the view from the Remarkables towards Queenstown Airport, with Queenstown beyond

See also[edit]


  • Reed, A. W. (2002). The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Books. ISBN 0-7900-0761-4. 


  1. ^ a b "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2014 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.  Also "Infoshare; Group: Population Estimates - DPE; Table: Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas, at 30 June (1996+) (Annual-Jun)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Miller., F.W.G., (1949), Golden Days of Lake County. Whitcombe and Tombs. p 3-11.
  3. ^ "Queenstown history - William Gilbert Rees". 
  4. ^ a b Bennett, Sarah; Slater, Lee (25 April 2012). "Queenstown's cycling explosion". Travel New Zealand. Fairfax. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Waiorau Snowfarm". Destinations. Australia: Canberra Alpine Club. 
  6. ^ Cathy Scott. "Two Paddocks: Our Story". 
  7. ^ "Queenstown events: Festivals and events in Queenstown, NZ". 
  8. ^ "Home » Queenstown Bike Festival". Queenstown Bike Festival. 
  9. ^ "Dates set for 2013 Queenstown Winter Festival". Queenstown Winter Festival. 
  10. ^ "Queenstown Jazzfest 2014 - 24-26 October - 3 days of Fantastic Music over Labour Day Weekend". 
  11. ^ Travel Info - Queenstown. Best Mountain Towns. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  12. ^ a b Beech, James (8 March 2013). "Setting stars in top drama". Otago Daily Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Campion shoot is now 'Top of town'". Mountain Scene. Queenstown, New Zealand: Scene. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Pulver, Andrew (9 February 2013). "Top of the Lake – first look review". Guardian. Guardian News. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Entertainment: Top of the Lake". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Wakatipu High School". Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  17. ^ Crosbie, Celia (1 October 2010). "Educators join forces for Study Queenstown website". Mountain Scene. Queenstown, New Zealand: Scene. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Institutions". Study Queenstown. 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "Language Schools New Zealand – Queenstown". 
  20. ^ ABC College of English. "Queenstown - ABC College of English, Queenstown - English language school in Queenstown, New Zealand". 
  21. ^ "Learn english / English as a second language - Southern Lakes English College". 
  22. ^ Chandler, Philip (5 July 2012). "SIT cuts teacher hours". Mountain Scene. Queenstown, New Zealand: Scene. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "About Us". 
  24. ^ Lamont, Sarah (1 March 2012). "Rare window opens for Queenstown". Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Hospitality and Tourism Management Education // Queenstown Resort College". 
  26. ^ "Snowsport Specialisation - Tourism Management - Courses // Queenstown Resort College". 
  27. ^ a b "Adult Learning Link Wakatipu: Wakatipu Adult Classes". 
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  29. ^ "Centre for Sustainable Practice". Welcome. Otago Polytechnic. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  30. ^ Queenstown Skyline Gondola
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  32. ^ Gardiner, Brooke (14 September 2012). "Slip closes Skippers road for month". Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  33. ^ "The Routeburn Track". 
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  35. ^ Graham Barker. "Aerobatics over Queenstown". 
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  37. ^ "Queenstown Essential". 
  38. ^ Glacier Southern Lakes scenic flights Queenstown
  39. ^ "Queenstown Helicopter Flights - The Remarkables, Milford Sound - The Helicopter Line". 
  40. ^ "Safety". 
  41. ^ "Golf » Jack's Point". 
  42. ^ "Queenstown Golf Club". 
  43. ^ "Queenstown Disc Golf". 
  44. ^ "Disc Golf in Queenstown, New Zealand.". 
  45. ^ "Queenstown Tennis Club". 
  46. ^ "Queenstown Cricket Club". 
  47. ^ "Home - Wakatipu Netball, Queenstown New Zealand". 
  48. ^ Wakatipu Rugby League Club
  49. ^ "About Us". 
  50. ^ "One-touch rugby". Mountain Scene. Queenstown, New Zealand: Scene. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  51. ^ "Touch Southland". Invercargill, New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  52. ^ "Bathroom Renovation Wellington NZ". 
  53. ^ "Statistics for NZL Queenstown". Department of Energy. 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  54. ^ [1] (from the NIWA website)
  55. ^ "Climate Data and Activities". NIWA. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  56. ^ Sister Cities
  57. ^ "新西兰皇后镇与杭州“互粉” 杭州“朋友圈”新增3个友好城市 - 杭网原创 - 杭州网". 

External links[edit]